After weeks (!) of trying to create the perfect vegan tempeh meatballs recipe, I can say that my taste buds are finally satisfied!
These "no meatballs" are made with tempeh, which is fermented soy beans (while tofu is not). The whole process of fermentation increases the digestibility and the nutrient absorption of soy.
You'll find a variety of tempeh. Some are pre-cooked, seasoned and ready-to-eat. Other forms are uncooked, sold fresh or frozen. You can find plain tempeh, as well as tempeh made from soy and grains (like quinoa or rice). It may have gray or black spots on the surface and it is totally normal : It's the result of the fermentation process (as the blue spots on gorgonzola cheese).
Tempeh has a particular flavour that some people might need time to get use to. Therefore, it's really important to introduce this great healthy food with a tasty and satisfying recipe. Meatballs and tomato sauce is in my opinion a favorite for the whole family, so that recipe should be a hit!
These gluten-free balls are firm, nutty (they are made with walnuts), infused with Italian herbs and are crunchy . They also are incredibly healthy and nutritionally dense.
They are so perfect with a marinara sauce over spaghetti squash (or your favorite pasta!). I can also easily imagine a few balls packed into a sandwich or shaped into burger patties.
Tempeh "no meatballs" & roasted spaghetti squash
Inspired from Danielle Levy
Yield : around 15-16 balls - serves 4
Around 250g uncooked and unfrozen tempeh (plain or soy-grain tempeh)
1/2 rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts - see note
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 medium carrot (around 1/2 cup grated carrots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon flax seeds (grounded) + 2 tablespoons water
1.5 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
1/2 teaspoon dried origano
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or chilli flakes)
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- In a food processor, grind the oats into flour. Pour into a large bowl. At this point, you may be tempted (like I did the first few times!) to put all the ingredients at once into the food processor, but trust me, the key to this recipe is to process the ingredients in 3 steps. This will prevent the mixture from transforming into a puree and will allow your meatballs to keep a nice crunchy texture.
- Add the coarsely chopped carrot, the parsley, basil, garlic cloves, walnuts in the empty food processor and process until finely chopped. You want to keep big chunks, so don't over process the ingredients. Pour into the large bowl and mix with the oats.
- Finally, add your coarsely chopped unfrozen tempeh (I boil mine for 5 minutes to quickly unfreeze it - This method also takes away the bitterness some people may find unpleasant. ) into the empty food processor until finely chopped. Again, you want to keep some big pieces (not puree). Pour into the large bowl with the other ingredients (veggies, nuts and oats).
- Mix the ground flax seeds and the water together and wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the flax eggs to the mixture.
- Add in the remaining ingredients (oil, spices, tamari, nutritional yeast) and stir well to combine.
- Shape into balls with your hands and place on a parchment paper covered baking pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the balls and bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden (don't over cook, they will dry out).
- If you want, you can cook your balls for 2-3 minutes in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. That way, the crust will become golden and crispy.
- For the spaghetti squash, slice with a sharpened knife in the middle (lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the squash cut-side-down on a baking pan. Bake for about 35-45 minutes at 375F (you can cook it along with your "meatballs" since it's the same oven temperature), or until you can scrape the squash easily with a fork.
- You may want to wait a few minutes before cutting the squash so that the skin becomes cool enough to touch without getting burned. Scrape the entire squash into "spaghetti" strands.
Note : You can substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds or more oats if you want to make a nut-free recipe.
Update : they are totally freezable ! Pop in the oven frozen and cook at 375F for about 35 minutes.